Okla. virtual charter school board approves application for taxpayer-funded religious charter school

The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 Monday to approve what would be the nation’s first publicly funded religious charter school.

The board approved an application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to establish St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School, an online public charter school.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters said he approves of the move and said he encouraged the Board to vote in favor of the charter school.

“This decision reflects months of hard work, and more importantly, the will of the people of Oklahoma. I encouraged the board to approve this monumental decision, and now the U.S.’s first religious charter school will be welcomed by my administration. I fought for school choice in all forms and this further empowers parents. We will make sure every Oklahoma parent has the opportunity to decide what is best for their child.” - Ryan Walters

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said the move is unconstitutional and would likely face legal challenges.

“The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers,” Drummond said. “It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the State to potential legal action that could be costly.” Drummond said.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt also expressed support for the decision Monday.

“I applaud the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s courage to approve the authorization for St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education.” Stitt said. “Oklahomans support religious liberty for all and support an increasingly innovative educational system that expands choice. Today, with the nation watching, our state showed that we will not stand for religious discrimination.”

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